Songs For A Fox


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Songs For A Fox
"Vildziunas' film never slackens in its imagination but it becomes increasingly self-indulgent as things progress." | Photo: Courtesy of POFF

When it comes to visual storytelling and intrigue, the opening section of Songs For A Fox delivers as we watch Dainius (Lukas Malinauskas), later revealed to be a rock musician (a career previously shared by director Kristijonas Vildziunas), abandon his stuck jeep and head for what appears to be a biodome where he carefully decants the ashes of his dead girlfriend Justine into a jar that he sends down a foxhole. All this unfolds without dialogue, lending it a feel of mystery, added to when we learn that Dainius hopes, via a flashing light doohickey Justine (Agnese Cīrule) used to use to help her make potery when asleep, to reconnect with his lost love via lucid dreams.

Drawing, very loosely, on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Vildziunas' film never slackens in its imagination but it becomes increasingly self-indulgent as things progress. In pursuit of his sleeping quest, Dainius enlists the help of a local lad he discovers being exploited by moonshiners - a subplot that struggles to hold its own against the flights of fantasy elsewhere.

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Vildziunas' film features some lovely incidental nature photography from Jurgis Kmins and good use of lighting along the way, increasingly attempts to push us into the hinterland between what is real and imagined. But he could have done with a much stronger editor to pull him back from his tendency towards rock noodling, especially when a couple of Dainius' old friends come to call. Some of the dream sequence elements are quite cute - I particularly enjoyed the bizarre 'clock' that Dainius encounters in his dream state, which has some lovely animated icons instead of numbers - and there's a cleverness to the way Vildziunas handles that Dainius' sense of being unsure if he is awake or asleep.

Dreams are, by their nature, fragmented, but Vildziunas struggles to make the fractured realms entered by Dainius cohere into anything very concrete beyond a vague feel of grief. A lengthy, Terry Gilliam-esque sequence near the end - which may well make more sense if you have a grounding in Lithuanian folklore - along with a rock concert element that feels like a kitsch pop video feel like the director indulging his own whims rather than trying to serve the story. You're unlikely to fall asleep but you might find yourself wishing that Dainius would just snap out of it.

Reviewed on: 07 Apr 2022
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Songs For A Fox packshot
After his lover's death, a rock singer studies the art of lucid dreaming and descends into a netherworld in hopes of being together again.

Director: Kristijonas Vildziunas

Writer: Kristijonas Vildziunas

Starring: Agnese Cirule, Lukas Malinauskas, Mantas Zemleckas, Agnieska Ravdo, Saulius Bareikis

Year: 2021

Runtime: 125 minutes

Country: Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia

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